One of the cardinal rules in writing is not to make sentences too long. A good sentence should be concise, containing no unnecessary words. It is easy to make a sentence too wordy, and in the process lose the reader. When we come to First John 1:1-4, the Apostle introduces his epistle with a sentence that covers four verses. In the Greek it is one majestic sentence of 87 words (in KJV 108 words)! Leon Morris writes that, while profound in its content, the entire four verses of the prologue being “but one highly compressed and complicated sentence in the Greek.” [1] It is as if John doesn’t know where to begin and where to end. What a profound sentence it is! It is a sentence which contains so many sparkling diamonds of truth it would take a lifetime to unpack all the treasures contained within.

While the majority of English translations put a period after verse 3 for the sake of readability, 1:1-4 is a sentence bursting with heaven’s illuminating brilliance whereby John with each inspired word seeks to pierce the darkness with the radiance of the Light of Christ. (The ASV translates it as one sentence). The four verses read: “1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (KJV)

The aged disciple of Christ writes what reads more like a sermon than a letter, to churches in Asia Minor about 95 AD. The content of his eighty-seven-word opening sentence is like a musical filled with soaring crescendos. It is so rich in truth a whole commentary could be written on just those four verses, so just the hem of the sentence’s garment will be touched. Seeking to unpack some the golden nuggets found within 1:1-4, it is hoped it will whet the appetite of the reader to dig deeper into the text. O, what a sentence.

I. The Eternality of the Word
First, we discover The Eternality of the Word in verses 1-2. John refers to Jesus Christ in his epistle as he did in his gospel, as the Word, the Logos – more specifically the “Word of Life.” In Greek Philosophy “Logos” was that one abiding principle in all the universe that never changed and was the force by which all existed; the Logos was the Ultimate Reason which controlled all things. John informs the Logos was more than an impersonal force, but a Person in whom was life, eternal life. That person was Jesus Christ. Two truths John reveals about the Word of Life, Jesus Christ.

(1) The Eternal Existence of the Word. John says, “That which was from the beginning” (v. 1). The Greek word translated “was” (ἦν) is in the imperfect tense, it speaks of continuous action in past time. “Was” emphasizes the preexistence and divine character of Christ. Christ, the Word did not come into being at some point in time. Christ has eternally existed from “the beginning” (v. 1), thus He is not a created being.

(2) The Eternal Equality of the Word. The Word was not lesser than God, but was God. John writes that the Word was “with the Father” (v. 2). The Greek phrase “with the Father” (πρὸς τὸν πατέρα) indicates one who is facing the Father, one who is on an equal plane with the Father. The Word, who is eternal, is eternal life Himself. John is clearly teaching the Trinity, that one God exists as three Persons. “With the Father” reveals that Christ and the Father are equal and one, yet distinct in their person. While there will always be a mystery about the Triune Godhead, the majestic words “with the Father” cause us to bow in worshipful awe.

II. The Entrance of the Word into the World
Second, we discover from John’s opening sentence The Entrance of the Word into the World (v. 1-2). Two truths stand out about the Logos, Christ’s entrance into the world.

(1) The Word came to Earth as a Man. John says twice in verse 2 Jesus was “manifested.” He who was eternal, He who was equal with God, He who was God, became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The word “manifest” (phaneroo) means to make visible or known what has been hidden or unknown. The word was used to speak of a bright light appearing, like the sun. It is in the passive voice, meaning that God coming to earth robed in flesh was totally separate from any action of man, but it was God who took the initiative. Man is a recipient of God’s action in His revealing Himself. While creation teaches us there is a Supreme Being, we could not know God personally apart from Him taking the initiative to revel Himself in Jesus Christ. In Christ the invisible God became visible. John is clearly affirming the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

(2) The Word was Examined by Man. John is not writing about hearsay information, but as an eyewitness. He says he actually heard Jesus speak, looked upon Him, and handled Him with his hands (v. 1). When John says he handled Christ, the word he uses (ἐψηλάφησαν) means “to examine closely, to handle with a view of investigation.” John in describing his examination and encounter with Jesus uses the perfect tense, which means that which happened in the past still has lasting results in the present. He is saying, “What I heard Jesus say is still ringing in my ears and what I saw him do is still in my mind’s eye 60 years later. What I heard, I can’t unhear; what I saw, I can’t unsee.” To all the naysayers who contend Jesus was not a historical person, John knew for a fact He walked on earth, because he saw, heard, and touched Him, and He was more than a mere man. John affirms Christ was God become flesh. He is the revelation of God seen in human form. Upon careful examination and investigation of Christ, John was convinced beyond all doubt that He who was called the Word was the transcendent God invading time.

III. The Enduring Witness for the Word
Third, we discover from John’s opening sentence The Enduring Witness for the Word (v. 2-3). John makes it clear that which he heard, saw and touched, he bore “witness” to (v. 2) and “declared” to others (v. 3). The word “witness” (martureo) means to testify of and was used to speak of someone who was a witness in court. It is in the present tense which means he was an ongoing witness for Christ. The word translated “show” (v. 2) and “declare” (v. 3) (anaggello) means to proclaim, report unto, to bring tidings from. It was used to speak of one who heralded news to the town. It is in the present tense, meaning he kept on proclaiming what he saw and heard. As to John’s certainty that Jesus was the Word, two truths present themselves in his enduring witness and declaration of Jesus Christ.

(1) John Declares Christ as Fact. Once again, the Apostle says he is declaring what he had seen and heard (v. 3). It is a fact. John is saying, “We deliver nothing by hearsay, nothing by tradition, nothing from conjecture; we have had the fullest certainty of all that we write and preach.” Again, John uses the perfect tense, meaning what he saw and heard had so impacted him that the voice of Christ is still ringing in his ears and what he saw he can’t unsee. Because John had a personal encounter with the Living Christ, he can’t help but declare Him, and continue to declare Him. The Good News that is worth proclaiming is that God in Christ has visited earth to restore the brokenness of humanity.

(2) John Declares we are Called into Fellowship. John declares Christ is the God-Man, therefore, we have been called into fellowship with one another and with the Father and the Son (v. 3). Fellowship with one another in Jesus Christ, issues from a real, practical, fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The word translated “fellowship” (koinonia) means “belonging in common to, participation in/partnership in.” It carries with it the meaning of communion, participation, share a common life, and partnership. In Hellenistic literature it was used to describe partners in business, joint owners of a piece of property, or shareholders in a common enterprise. The idea is that of one person having a joint-participation with another in something possessed in common by both. The word koinonia indicates the setting aside of private interest and desires and the joining in with another or others for common purposes. John says for the Christian that common interest and purpose is Jesus Christ, the Living Word. Fellowship with Christ and with one another is the bond that ties believers together.

The kind of relationship John describes is only possible because Jesus is who John says He is in 1 John 1:1-2, the Word of Life. If someone invited you to have a “personal relationship” with a past historical person you would think them foolish. One cannot have a genuine “spiritual” relationship with a dead man. But with the eternal God who became man and who arose from the dead we can have a relationship with Him and one another.

IV. The Explanation for Writing
Fourth, we discover from John’s opening sentence The Explanation for Writing (v. 4). He writes, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” “These things” of which John is writing refers to the entire contents of the letter. As the reader digests the contents of what John penned, his prayer is that the reader will be filled with the joy of all that the Living Christ accomplished. The word translated “be full” means complete overflowing joy. It is in the perfect tense, meaning joy that continues and persists throughout the believer’s life. John desires his readers possess the assurance of knowing that they are in fellowship with the one in whom eternal life is found, for there is where true joy is found. Throughout the letter John hammers home the truth that our joy comes from knowing that in Christ we have eternal life (5:13), knowing God is love (4:16), loving our fellowman (2:9-10), not living in habitual sin (3:6-7), knowing that greater is he that lives in us than he that is the world (4:4), knowing we have an “Advocate” when we do sin who cleanses us from all unrighteousness (2:1-2), living in such a way that we will not be ashamed before Him at His coming (2:28), and in this world we can live as “overcomers” (5:4). When the Christian is cognizant of those truths, there is created a joy within that the world can’t give.

John wants his readers to realize that Christ is the source, object and center of the Christian’s joy. It is a joy that can only be found in an abiding relationship with the Living Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. It is entering into abiding fellowship with Christ and fellow Christians that John desired for his readers and desires for you and I. Expressing that desire, John brings his lengthy sentence to an end.

As one can see, trying to plumb the depths of John’s opening sentence is like trying to dive into the deepest depths of the ocean or ascending to the highest mountain peak. One would have a better chance of counting the sands on the seashores of the world than to ever fully grasp the wonder of John’s thoughts as he searches for words to describe the magnificence of Christ and how He affected his life.

O, what a sentence. O, what a Savor!

Dr. Dan


Leon Morris, “I John,” The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1970), 1260.



I recently was contacted by someone who became engaged in a discussion with a person who said the Bible doesn’t teach that Jesus was God nor did Jesus ever make such a confession. One who makes such a statement reveals their lack of understanding what the Bible teaches  about who Jesus was. There are many places in the Four Gospels where Jesus affirms He and the Father are One (John 10:30) and there are numerous NT passages which confirm Jesus was God in the flesh (I Tim 3:16). But there is arguably no passage in the NT which affirms the deity of Jesus and that He and the Father are One more than is found in John 1:1-3, 14. These profound verses read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” And John 1:14 reads, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Wow!! What verses. Let’s examine them closely.

John says of Jesus that He was/is the “Word” ( λόγος logos) (1:1; 14). One of the distinctive terms he uses is the Greek word logos. Matter of fact, logos is a keynote theme in the Fourth Gospel. Logos is translated “Word” throughout John. While John uses logos to denote sometimes the message of Jesus or the sum total of Jesus’ teaching, it was applied to Christ Himself, which is the distinctive feature of John in the use of the term. Logos  means “a word, being the expression of thought, putting  words together and so to speak; an utterance.” Logos is derived from the verb lego, meaning “to say, to speak, and to tell.” When speaking, logos is the expression of one’s thoughts. Logos signified the outward expression of  inward thought; words expressing what is in the mind. John is saying that Jesus is God expressed. Christ is the expression of our Creator; He is the Creator being expressed in human form. In Christ, God is revealed, expressed and explained. Jesus as the Word is the divine “Communicator par excellence.“[1]

What prompted John to use the term logos? What is the background of the term “Word” John used to describe who Jesus was/is? An understanding of the background of the word logos will shed light in answering the question, “Was Jesus God in the flesh?”

Logos in Greek Sources
The use of logos in a philosophical sense had a long history before its use in John. The earliest Greek writer to give expression to a logos principle was Heraclitus (500 B.C.)[2] He believed that logos was that one abiding principle in the universe that was not subject to change. Logos was the unifying principle, the Law or Reason which accounted for the stable pattern in the ever-changing world. He believed the logos principle pervaded everything.

Plato (400 B.C.) tied the logos principle to his theory of ideas. Behind all things there must be thought, the logos being the giving of expression or verbalization to ideas in the mind.[3] Ideas are abstract, but the self-expression or verbalization of one’s thoughts and ideas was the logos. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) applied the word logos to refer to a reasoned discourse or an argument. Christ is the reasoned discourse and argument of God!

The Stoics (third-century B.C.) believed the logos was the source of all things. The logos was creative and pervaded all things. While pantheistic, the logos created and held all things together.

In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament (second-century B.C.), the term logos is used for the Word of God; it is His creative power from heaven and that which exists by His sustaining power (Psalm 33:6).[4] In Alexandria there was a Jew name Philo (ca. 20 B.C.-50 A.D.), who was steeped in Hellenistic or Greek thought and philosophy, whose teachings and system of thought were developed around the logos.[5] He sought to combine the two, Greek and Jewish thought. He used the term some thirteen hundred times in his writings. He lived during the time of Jesus. He was influenced by both his Hebrew and Greek background. For him the logos was God’s instrument for fashioning the world; the logos was the rudder that guided all things in their course, impersonal Reason which created and preserved the universe. Philo wrote that “the Logos of the living God is the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevents them from being dissolved and separated.”[6] Philo taught the logos was eternal, the power in creation and revelation.

Having looked briefly at the background of how Logos was used in the Greek world, seeking an understanding of how logos was used in Jewish sources will prove profitable.

Logos in Jewish Sources
First, in the OT the logos, or the Word of God, has extensive meaning. The logos is God’s creative power (Genesis 1, Ps. 33:6, 9), His sustaining power (Ps. 147:15-18), His judgment (Hosea 6:5), His will accomplishing its purpose (Is. 55:11), His means of revelation (Jer. 20:9, Ez. 33:7), the whole message of God to man (Ps. 1199, 105), His Wisdom (Prov. 8), and the logos is pre-existent (Prov. 8:27).

Second, in the Apocryphal writings the idea of logos is found. In the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon, the logos leapt down from heaven as a warrior. “Your all-powerful Word (logos) leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death…” (Wisdom 18:15-16). In other texts the logos is said to penetrate all things because it is the breath of the power of God. Logos is pictured as eternal light. The logos is also found as coming forth from the mouth of the Most High God.

Third, is the rabbinic idea regarding the Torah (first five books of OT). The rabbis taught the Torah, as the logos or the Word, was pre-existent and created before the foundation of the world.[ 7] The Torah was regarded as being in the bosom of the Father and was an intermediary between God and the world. They believed the words contained in the Torah, penned by Moses, are life for the world. That gives sense to why John said Jesus Christ, as the logos, was superior to Moses the law-giver (John 1:17). Whereas the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came though Jesus Christ. Being in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), Jesus fulfilled the function of the pre-existent Torah and is able to give life to the world.

Jesus as the Logos
When you consider the Greek and Jewish background for the word logos we can understand better why John declared Jesus the Logos.

Greek readers would read John’s Prologue and understand him to say the one rational principle of the universe became flesh; the Reason and Wisdom by which all things were created and exist became flesh; the one abiding principle in the universe, in a world of change, became flesh and dwelt among us. The divine Reason, the creative power that pervades all things and holds all things together became flesh and dwelt among us. Reason and Wisdom, the universal Infinite Personality, came to dwell with us as a man and walk on earth amongst us.

Jewish readers would read John’s Prologue and understand the Evangelist to say God’s creative power, His sustaining power, His judgment, His message, His wisdom, His power, His revelation, His will accomplishing purpose, His eternal written Word (Torah) became flesh and dwelt among us.

John’s message is clear to both Jew and Greek, Jesus Christ is the incarnate Logos; the One he is writing about is God who took upon Himself the form of a servant and came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).

John makes five affirmations about the Logos, about Christ.

First, Jesus is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). He always was. Was means “expressing continuous timeless existence.” [8] There never was a time when the Word was not. Rather than being a created being, Christ always was before creation. He existed not merely as a principle or an idea; He was a Person.

Second, Christ is equal to God. “The Word was with God” (John 1:1). In the Greek “was with (Gk. pros) God” means the Logos, Jesus, in timeless past was face to face with God. This speaks of equality and intimacy, “the Word having the same nature as God.” [9] In ancient times if one entertained two guests of equal rank they would be seated on an equal basis. So, Christ was not a lesser created being of God. He was equal with God.

Third, Christ was God. “The Word was God” (John 1:1). Christ is not one of many created beings coming out of God. Christ is eternally God, is equal with God and is God Himself. John 1:16 tells us in Christ is the fullness of God (Colossians 2:9), the state of being God; God in all His divine essence and fullness. That is who Jesus is; in Him is found God in His fullness. Frank Stagg writes in New Testament Theology, “As the Logos, Jesus Christ is God in self-revelation (Light) and redemption (Life). He is God to the extent that he can be present to man and knowable to man. The Logos is God.” [10]

Fourth, Christ is the Creator. “All things were made by Him” (John 1:3). He created into being the universe. The Logos (Jesus) is the One found in Genesis 1 and 2.

Fifth, Christ who is God in all His fullness, became flesh (John 1:14), dwelt among us and “declared God” (John 1:18) in our midst and exegeted Him. The Greek word translated “declared” in John 1:18 was used to speak of giving an interpretation of a text, to reveal what the text says, and also was “often used for publishing or explaining of divine secrets.” [11] Jesus is the Exegesis and Explainer of God; He interprets and reveals Him. And of His fullness have we received, grace for grace. The Creator became the Redeemer, and Jesus makes that clear when He told Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

It is clear just from John’s Prologue that the Beloved Apostle is affirming that Jesus was more than a mere man, but that He was the God-Man, He was God become flesh who dwelt among us. To come to any other conclusion than that Jesus was/is God is to close one’s eyes and mind to John’s wonderous  declaration that Jesus, the Word (Logos), “was God” (John 1:1-3). And our God who became a man (Jh 1:14), Paul declares why He clothed Himself in flesh and dwelt among us, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing [counting] their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19).

Yes, our God became a Man….and Jesus, the eternal Word  (Logos), not only offered the Sacrifice for our sins, He was the Sacrifice! O, what a Savior!

Dr. Dan


[1] Cleon L. Rogers, Jr, and Cleon L Rogers, III, Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 175.

[ 2] For a thorough examination and an excellent treatment of the word “Logos,” see Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), 321-330.

[3] See C.K. Barrett, “The Philosophers and Poets,” Chapter 4 and “Philo” Chapter 10, The New Testament Background (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995).

[4] Dale Moody, The Word of Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1981), 132-140.

[5] See Barrett, “Philo,” Chapter 10, The New Testament Background (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995).

[6] Philo, De Somm. II. 45.

[7] See W.H. Howard’s summary, Christianity According to St. John (London: Duckworth, 1943), 48-52.

[8] Rogers and Rogers, Linguistic, 175.

[9] Ibid, 175.

[ 10] Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology (Baptist Sunday School Board, 1962), 138.

[11] Rogers and Rogers,  Linguistic, 178.


There would be no Christmas without Christ. Christmas without Christ is only a festive feel-good time that has no eternal or impactful significance. That Christ was born is a historical reality. While His birth is confirmed by writings even outside Scriptural references, the Scripture is our best source for discovering who this Jesus is and why His birth is so celebrated. Matthew, writing with the Jewish reader in mind, beautifully paints Jesus as the King of the Jews, the One that has legal right the throne of David and who even commands from afar Wise Men from the East to come and worship He who  is born King of the Jews. Luke, writing with the Gentile reader in mind, vividly paints Jesus as the Son of Man, the Perfect Man, the Man for all men, and descending from Adam came to do what Adam could not do. As the Second Adam He came to live a perfect life, defeat temptation and be victorious over the Foe who defeated the first Adam. Mark, writing with the Roman reader in mind, humbly portrays Christ as the Servant of God. Mark doesn’t focus on the birth of Christ, but focuses on His deeds. With almost half the Roman Empire being slaves the genealogy and birth of a servant was unimportant in the Roman mind only one’s deeds, and Christ had plenty of them!

Ah, but John….He traces Jesus’ genealogy and birth not from Adam, Abraham, or David, but He goes all the way back to the beginning….not just the beginning of time but before time….he reaches back into eternity! So much is packed into John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”

These verses proclaim that Christmas is about when God became a man.
It is clear by “the Word” in John 1:1-3 the Apostle is speaking of Christ. The Greek word for “Word” is Logos, meaning that through Christ God has spoken, He has declared Himself, He has expressed Himself to humanity. Jesus is the incarnate Logos, the incarnate Word. Notice what John says about this Babe whose cry broke the silence of the Bethlehem night.

First, Christ is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word” (Jh 1:1). Christ was always with God. There never was a time when the Word (Christ) was not.

Second, Christ is equal to God. “The Word was with God” (Jh 1:1). The word “with” means face to face with God. This speaks of equality and intimacy. Christ was not lesser than God, but equal with God.

Third, Christ was God. “The Word was God” (Jh 1:1). Christ is eternally God, is equal with God and is God Himself. Christ is the fullness of God, the state of being God (Col. 2:9). As the Logos, Christ Jesus is God in self-revelation and redemption.

Fourth, Christ is the Creator. “All things were created by Him” (Jh 1:3). The Word in John 1:1-3 is the One of Genesis 1 who spoke by His Word all things into existence. The Word (Christ) created the universe, and at Bethlehem He came to visit the earth which He had created.

In 1:14 John reveals a profound truth. He writes that the Word who is eternal, is equal to God, who was God, and who created all things, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”


We catch our breath at such a declaration. We are astonished at John’s pronouncement. We scratch our heads at its mystery and profoundness. We in stunned silence seek to grasp John’s words. What? Our God became flesh and dwelt among us….can it be? Yes, that is the profoundness, yet the simplicity of Christmas…the Babe found in the stable’s manger in Bethlehem was our God who had come to dwell among us. That is the wonder of Christmas. Christmas is about when God became a man.

A Greek philosopher once stated that if God was to ever make an impact upon earth, He would have to become a man. Well, in Christ God became flesh, full of grace and truth, and has dwelt among us. Because of our sinfulness we could never go to where He is, but in His holy-grace He clothed Himself in human flesh to come to where we are. The Creator became a man to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, to provide a perfect Sacrifice for our sins. As He hung upon the cross with His arms outstretched, in His loving grace He bid men to come and be embraced by His long arms of salvation. And those arms of sacrificial grace are sufficient to amass unto Himself all who will come unto Him.

As the shepherds hurried in the darkness of the night to see the Baby Jesus, their eyes were privileged to gaze upon Him who was the Light of the world and who had come to chase away the darkness in our lives. He who lay beneath the twinkling stars had created the stars. The powerful truths behind the words of John leave us in awe and drives us to our knees in worship. And as we gather around the cradle at Christmastime, we do so cognizant of the truth that the coming of Christ in history is the coming of God the Redeemer. In His coming He offered a Sacrifice rent from His very own heart. The Sacrifice was made to God by Himself in His Son, and it was made to His own holy nature on behalf of you and me.

Yes, Christmas is truly a time to celebrate, for our God became flesh and dwelt among us!!

Merry Christmas,
Dr. Dan